Why the best year-end digital campaigns start right now

February 13, 2019

It’s no secret that the final few weeks of the year are a goldmine for charities and nonprofits. It’s when the majority of all the money we raise all year will be donated – when donors have philanthropy, generosity, and community on the brain.

So, if you’re like most of my clients, you take advantage of this by building a digital year-end campaign. The odds are good that you’re live by Giving Tuesday, if not sooner. You’re probably using some mix of email, remarketing, and organic social to connect with those existing donors and get them to renew. Maybe you use a symbolic ask to capitalize on seasonal giving.

But no matter what your campaign looks like, there’s a key factor that defines its success – and it’s a factor you might not even be thinking about: all the other emails you sent this year.

Relational, not Transactional

Think about the relationship a subscriber has with your email program. Is it a dialogue, with communication going back and forth, or a monologue, where you tell them what you want them to know? When you’re crafting emails, are you thinking about every facet of the experience of receiving it? Worst of it – do you only email them when you want them to do something?

Put it like this: if the only time a subscriber hears from you is for two months of the year with a series of solicitations, there’s not much of a relationship there. But if they hear from you on the regular, with a great mix of communication – that’s another story.

I’ve written before about the types of emails that make a good program mix. If you can use them all consistently, you’re on your way to a relational email experience, and not a transactional one.

More Than Just Annual Giving

Perhaps the biggest reason to be asking and engaging all year round is that your email donors may very well have the capacity to give more than once a year. But if you only ask once, that’s a sure-fire way to make sure a single gift is all you get!

Ask often. Craft timely, relevant solicitations that tackle your cause from different perspectives. For example, if you’re an international development charity, consider asking in support of clean water one month, and then girls’ education the next. Putting a variety of asks forward increases the odds that something – or even a couple of somethings – will resonate with a subscriber.

Maintain Your Sender Reputation

Sending email all year, rather than just in the highest volume season, can do wonders for your sender reputation. It cultivates a healthier, more engaged list – and that’s a huge green flag to email service providers (like Gmail or Mail) that the emails you send are safe, and not spam.

Plus, it gives you a chance to resolve potential issues before the biggest push of the year – when you definitely don’t want to discover you’ve been blacklisted in mid-December.

Tools like Return Path can help you nail down your sender reputation, and then help you improve it if you need to.


So, that’s my case for setting yourself up for year-end email success but sending email the entire year. What do you think? If you want to chat, drop me a line!

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Charlotte Field

Charlotte Field

Fundraiser. Digital native. Word wiz. Tea drinker. Pun maker. Kitten cuddler. Pronounces GIF with a hard 'g'.